Wednesday, June 29, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 29: Carnival at the Mothership; Akkari Wins Bracelet

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

A chant of "Ole! Ole! Ole! Pele! Pele! Pele!" echoed throughout the Amazon Ballroom as the ground shook before me.

"What the fuck? Did Brazil score a goal or something?"

I expected to hear some wasted announcer bellow, "Goooooooooooooooooooooooallllllllllllllllllllll!" But that wasn't the case because the World Cup isn't for another three years.

In the loudest, raucous, festive final table at the 2011 WSOP, Brazil's native son Andre Akkari won a bracelet while a hundred or so of his fellow Brazilian packed into an entire side of the stands inside the Mothership.


Akkari made the final table of the Donkament on Day 28, but even though it was the third day of the event, they failed to play down to a champion. Akkari found himself heads-up against Nachman "The Landlord" Berlin when play was suspended due to the 10-level hard-stop rule. The two resumed play on Day 29, or the fourth day of the exhausting Donkament.

Even though The Landlord was an American with home field advantage, his dozen or so supporters, led by Ari Engel, could not match up against the voluminous Brazilians. Whenever the small group of Americans attempted to cheer for the Landlord, the Brazilians retaliated with a few chants disguised at taunts. The Yanks got the "Shhhhhhh" tossed back at them a couple of times and my favorite -- a condescending "Oooooh, baby, baby, baby!"

The Brazilians on the rail were veterans of many World Cup matches, so they were much better equipped to deal with the opposition. Come to think about it, the way the Brazilians controlled the flow, energy, and atmosphere inside the Mothership, the Landlord was playing in a hostile environment. Ergo, he was in Akkari's house because the Brazilians seized the home-field advantage by default when forty or so Brazilians showed up at the re-start of Day 4. Within an hour the Brazilians had doubled their size and then some.

The intimating Brazilians were dressed for the occasion -- gold and green soccer jerseys -- and lots of #10 jerseys. The only thing missing was vuvuzelas and caipirinhas. One of akkari's friends brought a Brazilian flag and draped it over the rail on the opposite side of Akkari. It seemed a little strange that his crew would be facing him -- but that's how the Brazilians wanted it -- to see their hero no matter what. And vice versa. For Akkari it must have been inspiring to peek up and see a hundred or so of his fellow countrymen and women fervently cheering him on like the premier football players in his country.

Pele. Ronaldo. Akkari.

The chants were led by one guy in the front row who looked like he was about to have a heart attack, or potentially lead a workers revolution. He shouted vociferously and whenever chants died down, he quickly started them back up. The Brazilians were never quiet for more than ninety seconds before they got whipped up into another frenzy.

At first glance, you might have thought the Brazilians were drunk, but it was the opposite scenario. Many of them were cold sober, but Brazilians are passionate people who get fired up about anything that has to do with their home country. You rarely see that sort of unwavering nationalistic pride in America. I was smitten with both jealousy and awe. On one side of the audience, a handful of Americans did their best to root on the Landlord, but their efforts paled in comparison to the boisterous Brazilians.

The Brits are a laconic and demure culture. They need booze and liquor to break open their shell. In short, the Brits flock to the rail whenever a British player makes a final table, but they are unable to fulfill their railbirds duties sober. In order to cheer, which goes against their reserved nature, the Brits get snookered to the tits. As a result, you see and hear about all of the binge-drinking antics from the hooligans. At one point over the weekend, a few rowdy Brits were drinking Jager shots out of shoes on the rail.

My buddy Homer suggested the most interesting and rowdy table in the history of the WSOP would pit a Brazilian heads-up against a Brit.

"All hell would break loose," Homer suggested. "Between the Brits and the Brazilians going back and forth at each other, they'd absolutely tear down the entire set."

The volume of cheering rivaled a Brazilian football match. Even when I was in the pressbox in the corner of the room away from the Mothership, you could still hear the rambunctious Brazilians from the other side of the Amazon Ballroom. Every time Akkari won a sizable pot, they went berserk.

I joked with AlCantHang, "We went to cover a poker tournament and watch two dudes play cards, and a soccer game broke out."

The Brazilians didn't touch a sip of booze. They didn't have to. Many of them barely slept when Day 3 ended because they were all riled up when Akkari advanced to the final table. They probably stayed up all night plotting a soccer chant setlist of tunes to belt out whenever Akkari won a pot.

The Brazilians brought back the "Wave" into fashion. It was a fan favorite at American sporting events in the 1980s, but the Wave has since died down and only gets started up by bored and drunken fans at baseball games. At the Mothership, the Brazilians unleashed two different versions. The Fast Wave was just as you expected -- the Brazilians happily standing up and sitting back down as the wave went half-way around the audience and quickly returned the other way. Afterward they'd belt out "Ole! Ole! Ole! Pele! Pele! Pele!" The Slow Wave is just as it sounds. Slow, but even more effective because it gave the Brazilians more down time before they collectively exploded into an ear-piercing chant while stomping their feet to generate a thunderous and bong-rattling bass beat.

"Ole! Ole! Ole! Pele! Pele! Pele!"

The Mothership shook and rocked back and forth a few times. I really thought they were ready to blast off on a few occasions, as the Mothership would shoot up and crash through the ceiling of the convention center. As George Clinton and P-Funk said it the best, "We're gonna tear the roof off this mutherfucker!'

If you ever attended the November Nine, then you witnessed the energetic atmosphere inside the Penn & Teller Theatre. With nine final table players, at least four or five support groups were enthusiastically cheering for their hero. However, the cavernous Penn and Teller diluted most of the crowd noise. But over inside the Mothership, the crowd was much closer to the action and the collective cacophony of "Ole! Ole! Ole!" chants echoed throughout the Amazon Ballroom, and even spilled outside into the corridors of the Convention Center.

The Mothership was built for days like Day 29, but I have a feeling the Mothership might get dismantled because of days like Day 29. Plenty of pros an players going deep on Day 2 and 3s issued a complaint -- and rightfully so. I understand their point that they're playing for a bracelet and several million in prize money, so a more subdued and respectful environment was more appealing to those players. However, from a show biz standpoint -- the louder, the better. If it's standing room only inside the Mothership, then the WSOP must be doing something right. Alas, when the WSOP is over, the suits are going to have to figure out how to maintain a festive environment at the final table, but at the same time, giving the other players a semblance of peace and quiet. It's a tough balance to maintain and I'm eager to see what type of solution (if any) that the powers to be conjure up. But for now and the rest of the 2011 WSOP, expect the final tables to be intense, rowdy affairs.

I rarely root for players, but I had a special spot in my heart for Akkari. I was covering the LAPT Lima in Peru (the same week as Black Friday), and Akkari had to leave the tournament unexpectedly because his father passed away. He was among the chipleaders when the first day ended and never returned for the next day. Instead, a Brazilian flag was draped over his empty chair as his stack was blinded down. Akkari had enough chips that he made the money -- barely -- but secured a min-cash. Akkari returned to Brazil and buried his father while he consoled his entire family. Two months later, he shipped a bracelet at the WSOP in front of a hundred jubilant Brazilians. His good friend Alex Gomes became the first Brazilian to ever win a bracelet a few years ago in 2008, and now Akkari solidified his name to the list of greatest Brazilian poker players of all time.

Akkari came from behind to win. He doubled up on a decisive hand with pocket Kings that nearly tipped over the Mothership. When Akkari pulled even with the Landlord, I wondered what would happen if Akkari had lost? Thank God the Brazilians were not drinking, otherwise, they might have flipped over the Mothership and torched it with a few homemade Malatov cocktails.

Once he caught up to the Landlord, it was a matter of time before Akkari finished him off. Before the final hand was even finished, a dozen or so Brazilians jumped the rail and mobbed Akkari. Before the river card was dealt on the final hand, the Brazilians jumped up and down around him while the rest of the crowd belted out a few victory songs. The mob on the stage hoisted Akkari up on their shoulder. They attempted to carry him around the Mothership until a few of them tripped on the main stage and the floor guys quickly stepped in and told them carry Akkari around wasn't going to happen. That's when someone opened a bottle of champagne and sprayed it over everyone on the Brazilians side of the Mothership. It really looked like a celebration at the end of a sporting event.

Pele. Ronaldo. Akkari.
* * *

For a quick recap of Day 29 at the WSOP, check out my recap on RISE Poker... WSOP Day 28.

Don't forget, I recorded a podcast during Akkari's final table with AlCantHang. Listen here... Brazil's Mothership Invasion.

Checkout the Tao of Pokerati archives, aka best place to listen to the quickest poker podcast at the 2011 WSOP. I've had plenty of amazing guests this year including KevMath, Snoopy, Change100, Remko, Timtern, Johnny Hughes, Joe Dub, AlCantHang, and Benjo.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Tao of Pokerati Podcast: Brazil's Mothership Invasion (Ep 23)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Pauly and AlCantHang head out to a soccer match and a poker tournament broke out...
2011 WSOP - Episode 23: Brazil's Mothership Invasion with AlCantHang (2:50) - Pauly and AlCantHang are on the rail inside the Mothership watching the heads-up battle between American Nachman "The Landlord" Berlin and Brazil's native son Andre Akkari. Al and Pauly record a quick episode moments after Akkari won a decisive pot to cripple Berlin, and the Brazilians went berserk.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

2011 WSOP Day 28: The Glass Onion; Lamb Leads POY

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

If you chop up and dice and slice enough onions, it will make you cry...unless you're cool enough to buy a SLAP CHOP! If you cook a lot at home, or happen to work the line in a restaurant, then you're well aware of the bizarre power of a simple vegetable. Onions make grown men cry. Same thing applies to the WSOP -- if you chop up, dice, and slice enough donkeys, then you will be brought to tears.

Dead donkeys make grown men cry.

Every few days a few thousands unsuspecting souls are led to the slaughter... and they pay good money for it. Depending on the day, the price tag of admission to the Donkey Grinder is as cheap as $1,000 and as much as $1,500. The sheeple (or is it Donkle?) march right into a lake of bloodshed without even knowing it. The few Donkey Slayers who survive the carnage are rewarded with luxurious paychecks and a gold bracelet. I also find it humorous that bracelet winners also get awarded their very own Diamond Club card -- good at all Harrah's properties. The WSOP staff should be giving out helmets, raincoats and waders to keep all of the Equus Asinus blood off of the winner's clothing. Nothing is more tragic than seeing a hoodie or Ed Hardy shirt ruined by donkey guts.

* * *

Whenever I see a flash mob of Brazilians roaming the hallway of the Rio with a green and gold flag in tow, I immediately think the World Cup is on and they are going to watch the match. Since this is an off year for soccer competitions, then it had to be a Brazilian at a WSOP final table. In this instance, the center of the Brazilian poker world was Andre Akkari. Every Brazilian showed up to chant soccer songs and other random things in Portuguese. They are more festive but less drunk than the rowdy British hooligans. All in all, depending on how you view the world, the Brazilian contingency is a fun bunch or annoying as shit. Personally, I think it's fun to get caught up in a mob of happy Brazilians. Please send more bottles of rum to the Mothership, stat!

The PokerStars Team Pro is a true legend in Brazil. He's sort of like Pele meets Doyle Brunson, but without the bicycle kick and Stetson. My favorite Akkari story is something he told me about playing a tournament in Korea and he got stricken wit the dreadful casino flu. He was roaming the streets looking for cold meds. He picked up a bottle of what he thought was water. The guy at the counter kept screaming at him in Korean, but Akkari tried to communicate in English that he needed water to wash down his cold meds. Akkari paid his money and began chugging the liquid. Within seconds, he spit it out everywhere because it was vodka.

Akkari advanced to the final table of a Donkament and was seeking a bracelet and the supreme title of Donkey Slayer. The Brazilians flocked to the rail inside the Mothership and action got all the way to heads-up against Nachman Berlin before the 10-level hard stop rule came into play. Yep, another bullshit delay. Why don't they play out the heads-up matches? It's usually around 3am when it stops. This is poker in Las Vegas and the two should slug it out until dawn. I'm getting tired of the damn pussification of America spilling into the Nanny States of Poker.

Oh, in case you were wondering, the Razz final table was also suspended with two to go. If I'm any of these players who have to come back to finish out the finals, I'd be pissed. Then again, if you're super tired or tilting hard and desperately needing a break, the hard stop time is to your advantage.

The eventual conclusion of Razz (Rep Porter vs. Steve Su) the heads-up match of the Donkament (Akkari vs. Berlin) will be on Tuesday afternoon. Brazil will have to wait a few more hoursbefore they can begin celebrating and turning the hallways into Carnival.

* * *

Going into the weekend, Phil Hellmuth was at the top of the WSOP Player of the Year (powered by Bluff Magazine). This year's ranking have been tweaked a bit and Hellmuth was on top without having won a bracelet. A pair of second-place finishes propelled the Poker Brat into the top spot. You got a sense that once Hellmuth got a whiff that he had a shot at POY, he really amped up his play.

Alas, Hellmuth fell out of the top spot after Ben Lamb's victory in the $10,000 PLO Championship. Lamb beat out Finish pro Lars Luzak and British pro John Shipley (remember him from Varkonyi's Main Event final table?). Lamb shipped the bracelet and put himself into position to take down POY honors. Unless Hellmuth can go deep in another event, he's going to have a tough task ahead of him if he wants to add POY to his resume.
2011 WSOP POY Race - Top 10:
1. Ben Lamb - 486.25
2. Phil Hellmuth - 420.75
3. Samuel Stein - 402.63
4. Mikhail Lakhitov - 401.80
5. Mitch Schock - 364.81
6. John Juanda - 336.00
7. Amir Lehavot - 330.75
8. Sean Getzwiller - 325.00
9. Jason Mercier - 323.45
10. Mark Schmid - 317.75

Click here for a full leadboard for Player of the Year.
* * *

The gang doing the videos for Bluff Magazine released this gem Finding Phil Ivey Video...

* * *

For a quick recap of Day 28 at the WSOP, check out Change100's recap on RISE Poker... WSOP Day 28.

Checkout the Tao of Pokerati archives, aka best place to listen to the quickest poker podcast at the 2011 WSOP. I've had plenty of amazing guests this year including KevMath, Snoopy, Change100, Remko, Timtern, Johnny Hughes, Joe Dub,and Benjo.

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

New Tao of Pokerati Podcast: Eskimo Dementia (Ep 22)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Pauly and the infamous Joe Dub discuss an Eskimo-related incident on the rail. Here's the story...
2011 WSOP - Episode 22: Eskimo Dementia with Joe Dub (3:33) - Pauly bumps into Joe Dub while covering the final table of the $2,500 Razz. Joe Dub is eager to tell the story about how he saw Eskimo lurking around the rail of the Razz event and unsuccessfully trying to bum a stake off of someone with dementia. Joe Dub also shares a personal story about Eskimo asking him for money the first time they ever met.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 27: Shaking Down Ravers; November Niner Snags Bracelet

By Pauly
Las Vegas,NV

I stood inside an elevator at the Gold Coast with Timtern and six other people; two well-roomed middle-aged tourists from the Midwest, a tweaker who hadn't showered in days, a 300-lb whiskey tango chick in a yellow muumuu, and two raver kids dressed up for Electric Daisy Carnival.

I was schwasted and tried not to laugh when Timtern rolled his eyes and jerked his head in the direction on the other side of the elevator. The raver kid wearing sunglasses and a rainbow headband was rubbing his hand back and forth against the wall of the elevator. His friend, wearing a striped tank-top eight sizes too small, happily explained to a middle-aged couple what Electric Daisy Carniival was all about.

"Biggest rave on the planet. Over 200,000 people."

I told Timtern if we were alone in the elevator with the raver kids, we would have rolled them. Timtern is from New York and could give off that "undercover cop" if he hammed up the Strong Island accent. All that was missing was a NYPD shield dangling around his neck to indicate an undercover officer. Me? I can bluff a good game, especially against schwilly raver kids rolling their tits off on a mixture of molly and Ecstasy. I would've posed as a officer with the Mattress Police and shaken them down for their entire stash. Of course, I would've shared any seized goodies with all of my friends for huge blow out when the WSOP is over. Even for the straight-laced ones, I would've sold off whatever product I seized and bought them $9 personal pan pizzas from Pizza Slut in the Poker Kitchen.

Alas, the elevator was too full and had cameras, so Timtern and I didn't have a chance to mug a the clueless raver kids. The last day of any music festival is always the craziest because by then everyone has scored whatever party favors they need, and at the same time, it's a "smoke 'em if you got 'em" philosophy. Those two kids were probably holding enough product to light up all of Oregon and we missed an easy target.

I actually considered robbing a bunch of drug freaks, probably because I saw a tremendous mathematical edge. Only a total fuck up would run to the cops to complain about getting their stash pilfered in an elevator robbery.

What has become of me? I'm calculating odds of getting caught shaking down raver kids. I've officially succumbed to the dark side.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who preyed up spun out kids who partied for three straight days. A couple of friends attended Electric Daisy Carnival and I was a little jealous -- that's my type of scene, but I wanted to get the hell out of the Rio and hanging out with a quarter of a mil drug fiends sounded like an fun alternative to standing around and watching people play cards.

One of our European colleagues left work early to attend the last day of EDC. Veteran party animal AlCantHang told one of our European colleagues, "Just don't die."

More sound advice from Al, a sagely first-ballot Hall of Famer for original Party Animals.

I took a rare evening off to celebrate my girlfriend's birthday. I always feel bad that Change100 has to spend her birthday working in Las Vegas every summer with me in a foul, grumpy, tempestuous mood because of the hellacious WSOP grind. Well, her birthday is the one day every summer when I suck it up and pretend to be good mood for her sake. It's like the opening scene in The Godfather, because her special day is the only day you can ask me for a favor and I won't tell you to fuck off. Lucky for her, she didn't have to work on her birthday and vowed she wouldn't set foot inside the Rio on June 26th for the first time since 2004. She also said she doesn't like to play poker on her birthday, because she doesn't want a potential bad session to ruin a good time. Totally understood.

The last few days have been birthday crazy among my peers. I dunno what it is with late October or early November that so many of my friends' parents were screwing at that time of the year to produce late-June babies. In a four-day period, birthdays included WhoJedi, Landon, F-Train, and Change100 (who also shares a birthday with my buddy BG). Yeah, we were drinking with a reason to celebrate the past week instead of drinking to escape the grind of the WSOP as it reached the conclusion of its fourth week.

I was happy and thrilled a couple of Change100's friends from California were in town to help her celebrate in style with a savory dinner at one of Emeril's restaurants on the Strip. Our wine tab was more than the food part of our bill... and I only had a glass because I don't like to mix booze and pills. The ladies got shitfaced and I was the luckiest guy in Vegas hanging out with three blondes and a fistfull of pharmies. I promised Shirley and Halli that I wouldn't make fun of them being lesbian lovers anymore, especially on Tao of Poker, because I had really been beating the "faux-lesbian friends" schtick to death and it's getting old. Besides, I really have to be careful poking fun at lesbians, especially with the Ladies Event on the horizon. The last thing I need at this point is to get chased down the hallway of the convention center by a group of pugnacious men-hating bull-dykes who want to tear out my fingernails for years of misogynist rantings.

Anyway, after dinner we retreated to the Gold Coast, which is where I like to unwind with friends and be left alone after long days at the Rio. When I'm at the Gold Coast, I'm off the clock and just want to disappear into a sea of local degens. It was a fun night. At least no one spilled any drinks on the Pai Gow table, and no one got 86'd or cut off. Compared to the events of the past week, it was a rather mellow night.

* * *

My philosophy this year has been to write about my experiences at the WSOP, so you get the perspective of this spectacle through my half-baked, and mostly drunk eyes. If you don't like it, tough shit. That's what the live updates are for so head over to Life is short and the WSOP is simply too big to cover for a single person. Even the official coverage team has problems with an army of reporters and chip counters, but the folks at Bluff Magazine are doing one heck of a job covering the entire WSOP with 10% of the staff. Even if I am jacked up on Addys, there's only so much poker a sponge like me can soak up without becoming over-saturated, so the last thing I want to do is handcuff myself to a final table like I did in 2005 when there was only one final table per day, because on most days the Mothership and the secondary tables are playing host to a final table. Even then, with the hard stop rule, final tables usually don't end in a single day.

Despite my perpetually disheveled and hungover look at the WSOP, I'm doing my own thing and having much more fun this summer, dare I say the most fun I had since 2008 (when I sipped three weeks to go on Phish tour after the reunited after breaking up for four long years and gather up material for my next book) when I skipped 1/3 of the entire series. Seven weeks is a grind. It used to take me an entire month to recover from covering the WSOP and I'm not normal again until Labor Day. That's how crazy Vegas is every summer, so I understand why friends succumb to The Sickness. That's why it's important to take breaks at the WSOP, even if it's a half-day off to watch a movie or go on a hike in Red Rock Canyon. I know a couple of players who bailed for the next week or so in order to re-charge their batteries before the Main Event. Part of the reason I skipped Electric Daisy is that I'm about to take off for a few days next weekend after 24 or so days in a row sitting in the pressbox and wandering back and forth between the Pavilion, Mothership, and the sportsbook. The break could not have come at a better time.

Moving on...

Here's some actual poker content about the events at the WSOP...

Pechie ships first bracelet

Day 27 featured a couple of bracelets up for grabs. Justin Pechie won the Limit Shootout. I remember seeing that kid win a WSOP Circuit event at Caesar's Palace in the spring of 2007. Pechie has been on the tour for four years before he finally shipped his first bracelet and picked up another one for the Yanks. And by Yanks I mean the derogatory slang for Americans that the Brits popularized, because Pechie is a die-hard RedSox fan and I've never seen him without a Boston cap.

November Niner Matt Jarvis beat Justin "FluffDog" Filtz in five hands to win the 5K NL 6-handed. Again, what a crock of shit the 10-level hard stop rule when it's heads-up! Five hands? You delayed the final table over five fucking hands? That's at least two events this week (other one was Fabrice Soulier's victory) that concluded rather fast and the extra day was utterly necessary. Why not just play it out?

Anyway, Jarvis' victory notched a fifth bracelet for the Canucks. I know that the Mounties are monitoring the WSOP very closely because every time a Canadian player loses a heads-up match for a bracelet, hundreds of thousands of pissed off poker fans go berserk and riot in the streets of Canada...all of Canada.

Jarvis wins another piece of bling for Canadia

Speaking of riots... I'm still waiting for a full blown melee to happen inside the Amazon Ballroom, just like Change100 feared might happen in her guest post from week 1... Apocalypse Now. At this juncture no fisticuffs were reported, at least inside the Rio, but it's still a stressful environment.

I heard a couple of online kids got rolled by a hooker over the weekend, but that's par for the course in Vegas. I can't stress this pro tip enough: lock up your bankroll in the safe before you get naked to do the freaky-freaky with a working girl and she slips a roofie into your drink.

For a quickie recap of Day 27 at the WSOP, check out my WSOP Day 27 recap on RISE Poker.

* * *

Required WSOP Reading

Here's a few items of note for Monday....
Check out the 2011 WSOP Player of the Year Standings. Phil Hellmuth is on top with 420 points. (

Here's WhoJedi's amazing WSOP Photo Blog. (

I always pop over to Jeff's tumbr page, PKRGSSP, once a day to get a run down of the day in poker. I'm eagerly waiting for him to get back from his short-break. Keep up the solid work, bro! (PKRGSSP)

Agent Marco ambushed Howard Lederer in the parking lot of a sushi joint. I dig Marco and the QJ crew, but I really hoped he'd say, "Where my fucking money!" (QuadJacks)

One of my favorite parts of the day is waiting for the WSOP By the Numbers comes out. (Bluff Magazine)

In more Full Tilt drama... Jack Binion is somewhat interested in investing in Full Tilt Poker. I think it's a bad investment for Jack, but at this point, I want anyone to buy FT so me and my peers can get our money back. (Subject Poker)

Jesse May write about Durrrr. It's a two part series and a must read. Check out Part 1 and Part 2. (Poker Farm)
* * *

That's it for now.

Checkout the Tao of Pokerati archives, aka best place to listen to the quickest poker podcast at the 2011 WSOP. I've had plenty of amazing guests this year including KevMath, Snoopy, Change100, Remko, Timtern, Johnny Hughes, and Benjo.

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New Tao of Pokerati Podcast: New Dynamic Duo with Snoopy (Ep 21)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

With Dan AWOL and Benjo out of the country, Pauly searches for a new sidekick with an outrageous accent. He turns to Snoopy, who talks kinda funny...
2011 WSOP - Episode 21: New Dynamic Duo with Snoopy (5:59) - Pauly holds auditions for a new sidekick with only one requirement -- a outrageous accent. Snoopy, a writer from London, nails the audition. In this episode, they discuss modeling their new dynamic duo on the Batman & Robin television series, in addition to re-locating the Bat Cave to England and installing bat poles in the press box.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

2011 WSOP - Day 26: The Sickness

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

"He's got what Bob Voulgaris would describe as the 'SICKNESS'," explained Jess Welman the other night as we chatted about the gambling proclivities of a colleague.

The Sickness.

It sounds like the ambiguous disease in a zombie flick, or the name of a really bad wrestling character. In the parlance of our postmodern poker world, the Sickness is used to describe degenerate gambling.

The Sickness.

Personally, I don't have the Sickness per se in gambling terms, rather I have the Sickness in life terms. I'm addicted to life and adventure. The reason I steer toward inebriation and intoxicants is to spice up mundane, everyday things. Yes, booze and pills are the hot sauce of life. With just one sprinkle -- KAPLOW!!! The ordinary becomes extraordinary.

But I'm a rare example. I usually have some semblance of self-control. My bank account is proof. Sadly, I know friends who if they had the same amount of money in their savings fund, would blow it all this summer. They have no control and will spend every cent out of their pocket and then when they go busto, will ask to borrow money from you, which completely sucks because now you're funding your friends' degeneracy -- without getting the benefits of the gambler's rush. Without naming any names, at least a dozen "pros" I know went home until the Main Event after blowing their wads after almost a month of lighting their money on fire. A couple of colleagues I share the pressbox with are already over budget with three weeks to go.

The Sickness. It's what made men like Steve Wynn billionaires, who are able to afford to buy millions of dollars worth of artwork and punch a hole in a Picasso -- and not sweat it.

The Sickness. It's what sucks every penny, nickel, dime, quarter, and silver dollar out of old ladies' purses as they foolishly chase another slots jackpot.

The Sickness. It's what calls out to you in the middle of the night, like an alluring siren inducing you to go on mega-monkey-blackjack tilt and you piss away last week's paycheck before the shoe is even over.

The Sickness. It's what draws thousands of broke dicks to the epicenter of the World Series of Poker. Even though ESPN airs a "disclaimer" from Gary Loveman during WSOP broadcasts, the entire operation gets wealthier every day and profits due to the Sickness.

The Sickness. It's the darkside of gambling that rears its ugly head from time to time and will bite off chunks of your flesh if you're not paying attention, so you'll have to spend the rest of the summer wandering around the hallways of the convention center with pus oozing out of a gaping wound.

The Sickness. It's been the downfall of the greats of the game. Every day I see a dozen or so "pros" with at least seven figures in winnings, wandering the hallways with the humiliating aura of a beaten-down gambler hovering over their heads.

The Sickness. If Phil Ivey every hits rock bottom in the gutter, it won't happen because of action on the felt, rather, it'll be because of his life leaks off the felt and in the pits and sportsbooks.

The Sickness. It's been going around the Rio the last four weeks. There's no immunizations to prevent you from becoming infected. There's no way to avoid coming in contact with it. Your only hope is having a strong mind and the determination to not pull out every dollar out of your wallet (or purse, or in some cases with random Russian dudes -- a satchel).

* * *

I succumbed to the Sickness on Saturday. It's sort of like when you catch a cold because your immune system has been run down. In my case, my degen immune system was low, which is why I was temporarily afflicted with the Sickness, similar to a 24-hour flu. Alas, it only take a few hours to lose your mud in Vegas. I'm lucky I only lost $305.

I'm an emotional person, but hide it well. My mother swears I get it from my father's side of the family. You can't be McCatholic unless you're consumed with an Irish temper and a penchant for the bottle. Of course if my old man were still around, he'd cite my mother's Asian heritage as the reason why I'm prone to the Sickness. Alas, I got the crazy Asian gambler mixed with an Irish temper pumping through my bloodstream. I'm doomed.

I could list a Jay-Z inspired list of 99 problems (but the bitch ain't one) that were tilting me on Day 26 of the WSOP, but I'm supposed to be a professional and rise about the bullshit and my own mental trappings. Most of the time, we imprison ourselves into our own minds' solitary confinement, which is why people often misread simple situations and blow it up into a drama of epic high school proportions. However, on the flip side, we often ignore the lunatic (as the Pink Floyd lyric suggests -- "there's someone in my head, and it's not me") roaming around and don't lock him up when he needs to be tasered and tossed into mental jail, where he can't do any more harm to the rest of your internal voices. The last thing anyone needs in Las Vegas is to have the lunatic seize control of your decision-making processes. Because when he does, you lose out to the Sickness and it's only a matter of time before you disappear into the darkness of the abyss and you move into a sister property of the Redneck Rivieria to work as a smurfer, someone who drives around picking up cold meds so they can cook up a fresh batch of homemade meth to sell to hundreds of thousands of local video poker addicts.

I dropped $400 in 6 hands at a $10 Pai Gow table. The waitress didn't even arrive yet with my rum drink before I dusted off all of my chips and wanted to gouge out the eyes of the Pai Gow dealer with one of the worst rugs I've ever seen sitting on the top of his head, like a skunk with curls died in the middle of skull-fucking him. I suspected my dealer was a Little Richard impersonator back in Hong Kong, but acted like a total docuhenozzle when he scooped up my chips.

"Sir, I was rooting for you to win," he said in a low voice as he snatched away four greenbirds.

"Fuck you, dickwad. I don't need a fucking support group. I need you to cut this stupid act and deal yourself a Jack-high Pai Gow. Do me a favor and shut the fuck and deal the cards faster, you twat-stain!"

The Sickness had taken root and I have no idea if I actually blurted out my internal dialogue, or if I just muttered that tirade under my breath. The Sickness makes me say strange things. The Sickness transformed me into a blathering degen idiot, like TJ Cloutier chasing boxcars at the end of a craps table.

Two incidents happened that nearly caused me to flip over the Pai Gow table in an utter rage. First, I accidentally spilled my drink (when it finally arrived). It was in late afternoon and I wasn't even drunk yet and very sober compared to 12 hours earlier when I sat in the same seat and was running back and forth successfully two-tabling Pai Gow. Change100 still is astonished I didn't get 86d for running back and forth on Friday night. But on Saturday afternoon, I was on such tilt from dusting off my stack that I spazzed out and knocked over my drink. The pit boss rushed over and pulled the large ice cubes off the felt and threw them under the table. He pulled out a rag and quickly wiped down the felt as Little Richard in the box squealed about not getting the cards wet.

Two hands later, with my last $10 in the betting circle, the dealer mucked my hand before I had a chance to look at my cards. He called over a different pit boss and explained what happened, and the pit boss glared at him like he was an imbecile who shat himself and wiped it on his face.

"Worst. Dealer. Ever." I snarked in my Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons voice. "He mucked my hand before I had a chance to see it. That's the most unprofessional move I've ever seen."

Of course, the dealer fanned out his hand -- Queen-high Pai Gow -- and I had to take a deep breath before I flipped over the table and pulled the shitty hair plugs off of the dealer's dense head. I couldn't control the metamorphosis from the happy-go-lucky guy into a Hulk-like monster afflicted with the Sickness.

Hulk. Must. Smash. Pai. Gow. Dealer.

I walked away from that table and scouted out a new table. I sat next to a local with a raspy-voice. She chain-smoked Benson and Hedges and gave me shit every time I didn't play the Fortune Bonus. I laughed. Normally I would have kicked her in the vag, but that time I was on suck mega-Pai Gow Tilt that I shrugged it off.


I also reached into my pocket. I didn't pull out cash. Instead, I said hello to Mr. Percosett. If I was going to sit next to an old lady seven months away from speaking with a voice box, I needed to be faded to the tits so I didn't get tossed into lockup for assaulting an old lady (herself afflicted with the Sickness for two decades or more) for giving me guff about not playing the bonus

The Sickness.

* * *

That's it. I know I didn't write a lick about Day 26 of the WSOP, but I'm not losing any sleep over that. Luckily, you can head over to RISE Poker and check out Change100's quickie wrap of the day's events -- WSOP Day 26 Recap.

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 25: Rubber Soul, Electric Daisies, and Two-Tabling Pai Gow

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Sorry for the late recap. I was waiting until the ecstasy wore off before I posted anything to the internet. God bless the Electric Daisy Carnival. I haven't seen this much pixie dust in Vegas since Phish played a three-show run in April 2004. If you're not in Vegas right now then you have no frigging clue about the mayhem going on this weekend with over 100,000 raver kids attended the biggest rave on the West Coast. Someone told me 250,000 but they're too fucked up to count how many eyes they have in their head, let alone give me true figures on how many ecstasy-popping candy-eating raver kids descended on Vegas.

For a couple of days, the Rio is not the biggest freak show in Las Vegas. Poker players were no longer gods in sunglasses among mortals, instead they seemed like malodorous, dirty old men compared to the half-naked pacifier-chewing, glowstick twirling untz-untzers roving the Strip and trying to get to/from the speedway for Electric Daisy. If there was every a time to score some good fucking drugs in Vegas, it's this weekend. But be advised, drink tons of water and don't do anything retardely stupid because the po-po are out in force. I really hadn't seen that many cops in Vegas since... well, ever.

Okay, I'm feeling much better after chugging 2 quarts of water and I've stopped dancing in place, something I had been doing since the sun had popped out out of the darkness of the Nevada sky. With hundreds of thousands of known-drug fiends humping, grinding, and rubbing up against each other on the outskirts of town, there was still poker to be played at the Rio, where glow-in-the-dark bracelets were scoffed at because grown men wanted the real bling -- a gold bracelet.

Day 25 at the WSOP was one of the random days when three bracelets were handed out. There could have been a fourth bracelet, but a hard-stop time prevented the conclusion of one of the Donkaments. By the way, with the hard-stop times at 10-levels, it seems as though we're caught up in a perpetual Donkament, which means a lot of min-wage carpet cleaners stay up all night trying to steam the donkey blood out of the carpet of the Pavilion. The carpet used to be white, and now it's beige and brown because they were unable to extract all of the spewed donkey blood from the killing floor.

If the speedway and Electric Daisy was a love fest, then the Pavilion was the personification of the brutality of a butcher shop. I probably shouldn't write too much about this donk on donk violence, because those PETA true-thuggers will show up and try to douse WSOP suits with red paint, or some of them will dress up like poker dealers and try to release captive donks into the wild.

* * *

Two final tables from Day 24 spilled into Day 25. As a result a pair of bracelets were handed out with an hour of each other. The locales had swapped. The 10K HORSE championship had started out in the Mothership, but when the heads-up battle between Fabrice Souiler and Shawn Buchanan resumed, the were moved to an outer table. Meanwhile, the rowdy Brits railing the $2,500 NL final table (with five still alive) was moved into the Mothership.

Fabrice Soulier wins his first bracelet and third for France in 2011
Photo courtesy of

It took only four hands before Fabrice finished off Buchanan. Another silly, retarded example on why hard-stop times when it gets to heads-up is foolish. But no one cares what I think, or thirty screaming French people for that matter. That final table should have been completed on Day 24, but the staff sent everyone home.

"I couldn't sleep," remarked Fabrice Soulier. I don't know how I could either holding a substantial lead and then having to stop play and come back the next afternoon.

Fabrice prevailed and won the third bracelet for the French. The former film and TV director from France made a decision over a decade ago to quit his job in the entertainment biz because he was staying up late every night playing poker, and dragging ass the next day at work. He decided to take one year off and play cards before resuming his career as a director. Flash forward 11 years later to the 2011 WSOP and Fabrice shipped his first bracelet.

"The happiest day of my poker career," said Fabrice as he fought back tears.

Fabrice explained that he's a very emotional player, which was one of his biggest problems over the years because he expended a lot of energy at the tables in order to retain control. This summer he spent time focusing on meditation and yoga, which helped center himself and focus on the task at hand.

Clear the mind, win a bracelet.

Right after Fabrice won his bracelet, much to the delight of dozens and dozens enthusiastic French supporters on the rail, I headed to the Mothership to watch Middy and the binge drinking Brits railing the conclusion of the $2,500 NL. When we last checked in with the Brits, they were pounding shots of Jager out of shoes. On Day 25, the rail for Tom Middleton was smaller and more subdued than the previous night. Most of the rambunctious hooligans were sleeping off their hangovers. Middy didn't win the bracelet and hit the road in third place. Russia and the Motherland took home its second bracelet when Mikhail Lakhitov beat Hassan Babajane heads-up for the title.

I had skipped out of the Rio to hang out for a buddy's birthday party before the third and final bracelet was awarded to Mitch Schock, after winning Event #39 $2,500 PLH/PLO.

In case you were wondering and a fan/stalker of Melanie Weisner, who at one point held the chiplead late on Day 2 in the Donkament, she busted out in 14th place.

For a quickie round-up of Day 25 at the WSOP, you should check out Change100's recap on RISE Poker and read about the WSOP Day 25 highlights.

* * *

I went on a bender. Call it sheer frustration that I couldn't head out to the speedway to trip my balls off at the Electric Daisy Carnival. I'm taking off next weekend to see Phish perform at the Superball IX festival at Watkins Glen, NY, which is perfect timing right before the Main Event, so I can recharge my batteries after working for 24 days in a row. Alas, I stayed at the Rip/Gold Coast/Palm's area to keep an eye on poker and survey the before/after Electric Daisy scene.

Anyway, my bender started in mid-afternoon with a trip to the Hooker Bar. I was sweating a baseball bet using the AlCantHang system. We're 3-0 so far and I'm ready to launch a new baseball tout site with ACH and KevMath. It's been a surreal heater and even more fun to cash those winning tickets. Don't ask how the fuck we tried to bet on a Florida Marlins homegame at Safeco Field in Seattle. Somehow the Mariners were a road team in the home ballpark.

After a quick rum drink at the Hooker Bar, I wandered over to the Gold Coast for a late afternoon session of Pai Gow with old people. I've been trying to teach my new roommate Halli how to play (I promised her that I wouldn't use the term lesbian or fake-lesbian anywhere within a ten-word radius of her name, so not to confused the SEO bots and spiders crawling all over this page) and after two sessions, she's getting the swing of things.

I was on the winning end of peculiar, yet exhilarating suck out that I have to share with you. After all, no one likes to hear demoralizing bad beat stories, especially Pai Gow bad beat stories, but here's a tale about redemption. I got dealt a miserable hand -- Queen-high Pai Gow. I opted for the Dragon and slowly unfurled my hand to see another Queen-high Pai Gow, but this one was even worse than the first one.

"I need a Jack-high Pai Gow," I begged my dealer. She was a tiny Asian woman, but definitely not a bot because she blinked and laughed, and besides the Gold Coast didn't employ boots until sundown.

She flipped over half of her hand and slowly positioned all of the cards. She turned over a Jack of clubs with only one card to come. The six visible un-paired cards had no straight or flush potential. I was sweating a Jack-high Pai Gow and she reached for the final card. In dramatic fashion, she tabled a 9 of hearts. Holy shitballs, I sucked out with a Jack-high Pai Gow and both my bets.

Highlight of my entire summer of Pai Gow... thus far.

I returned to work for a bit and recorded a podcast with Snoopy, before heading back to the Hooker Bar to celebrate WhoJedi's birthday. The party migrated to the Gold Coast late night for more hijinks. I spotted the weird old Asian guy who walked around with his arms folded and sweated random tables. My favorite dealer returned and Change100 and Katkin didn't believe that we were actually Facebook friends.

"Wait," my girlfriend said in astonishment, "You're friends on Facebook with Pai Gow dealers?"

"Actually, I'm friends with three."

Pro tip on how to separate the bots in the pits from real people? Bots don't have Facebook pages... yet.

Inspired by Daniel Negreanu's two-tabling performance at the WSOP, I decided to push the limits of getting 86'd from the Rio and ran back and forth between two tables. My original table included VeeRob, MerchDawg, Katkin, and Change100, and I would set my hand as quickly as possible and jog over to the other table with AlCantHang, Shirley, Halli, and Marie Lizette. I'd set my hand, run back over to my original table to see the result, then run back over to the second table to view that result, before I returned to my original table to repeat the process. I got away with those hijinks for 15-20 minutes before the pit boss brought in a cooler.

There's one particular dealer at the Gold Coast that is a known bot. She's tilt-inducing. Humorless. Emotionless. Never blinks. Bloody awful. Never responds to jokes and constantly gives you guff about not playing the bonus. I always lose when she deals to me, so I always reduce my bet to the minimum when she gets pushed to my table, or I get up and take a walk around. As soon as she took a seat at AlCantHang's table, I picked up my stack. Fuck the bots. My two-tabling experiment had come to a close.

Hopefully, AlCantHang will write up how he got 86'd from the Gold Coast. I had bailed by then, but one of the most funniest moments happened when Al accidentally punched Mel Judah in the face. Al had shipped a hand after the dealer flipped over a King-high Pai Gow. Al thrust his hands in the air and clipped Mel Judah who was hovering over the table. I couldn't stop laughing at Al's drunken antics because he didn't realize he cold-cocked the Aussie pro. We coined a new term for a sucker punch -- you just got Judah'd.

* * *

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day and over the weekend for random WSOP stuff and other hijinks.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 24: Dwan Song, Revelry, and Hooligans

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I love a good drunken spectacle.

Especially when a flash mob of possessed inmates seize control of the asylum. Depending on your perspective, you're in caught in the eye of a hurricane and found it utter hell, you were likeme, mesmerized by the sheer path of destruction that is about to be released, but on the verge of joining in on the madness.

Day 24 of the WSOP featured a pair of Day 3's ($10,000 HORSE and $2,500 NL) with fields attempting to play down to a final table and declare two new bracelet winners. The outlook was grim with both events grinding away at a much slower pace than anticipated. That and the 10-level hard stop times meant the odds were high that one of the final table would not finish by night's end, and when play reached that bewitching hour, both events were still running.

Photo courtesy of Winamax

Event #36 $2,500 NL was initially dismissed because it was going to played out on a secondary tale, and at this point, even the hardest hardcore poker fans got a little tired with the same NL-swan song.

But Event #37 $10,000 was everything that the promoters hoped for an more. With Ivey sitting out this year's fiesta of poker, Tom "durrrr" Dwan has become the hugest draw in poker. In the last year or so, Dwan has been a major attraction for the biggest nosebleed games online, or cash games in Maccau, or playing on a closed set for High Stakes Poker. Dwan still achieved rock star status, even with his affiliation to Full Tilt. Dwan somehow escaped the spumes of ire from those of us caught up in Full Tilt's Ponzi Poker, because he was the only one to make a public statement and offered to pull cash out of his own pocket. When Ivey attempted to sever ties with FT (awkward announcement via FaceBook), rumors suggested Dwan was about to follow Ivey and defect. I have no clue of FT's angry response was sufficient enough to quell any potential mutiny from FT's crew, especially Dwan... or... if Uncle Tilty secretly whispered something in Dwan's ear to keep him out the fracas.

At this point, if you've been following Dwan's relationship with the WSOP, you know about the various bracelet prop bets he has -- both publicly and privately. So whenever Dwan goes deep in a bracelet event, the collective assholes of certain prop bettors shrivel up.Dwan's final tables are not just about trying to determine the best player in that game on that time in history, but they are also about the redistribution of wealth in the poker community.

Read the piece I wrote last year 2010 WSOP Day 10: Most Likely You Go Durrrr's Way (And I'll Go Mine) about his run in a Donkament, while the high-stakes poker community sat on the other side of the room with a keen eye on Dwan's progress.

On Day 24 of this year's WSOP, Dwan advanced to the final table of 10K HORSE, along with Shawn Buchanan, Michael Binger, Fabrice Soulier, and Daniel Ospina. Dwan started out as the chip leader, but hit a few rough patches and went busto in 5th place. While the high-stakes community dodged a bullet, the international poker community was just getting warmed up.

A contingency of French fans gathered on Fabrice Soulier's rail inside the Mothership. Fabrice is one of the most popular players from France, and one of the cooler European pros you'd meet on the circuit. I remember when he went deep in the Main Event in 2007, and busted out in 421st odd number for sure. Fabrice had another deep run in a HORSE event a couple of years ago, but fell short of his goal to win a bracelet.

Fabrice's popularity is derived from his breezy, yet engaging attitude. The amicable pro is kind of guy you'd sit at the end of a bar and shoot the shit with about poker, life, and the universe. Fabrice was the opposite of the two icons of French poker, ElkY and David Benyamine.

ElkY is an outlandish Frenchie version of David Bowie or Lady GaGa on quaaludes. Everyone calls him by one name -- like Bono, Madonna, or Elvis -- and dresses the part with weird accouterments, and carries himself with the panache of a rockstar.

Benyamine seems unapproachable, like a sad, quiet, tortured legend in the likes of Papa Hemingway. Benyamine seemed distant, even with the French press. I remember Benjo was super excited earlier this WSOP when he walked through the tables and Benyamine called out, "Hello Ben." We joked that was the most he's ever said to him in over six years. The American equivalent is if Texas Dolly called me by my real name, sort of a mind-tripping moment when the Godfather acknowledges your existence.

The French vocally supported Fabrice in nothing short of what I described as jubilant. The "Faaaaaaaaaaa-brice" chants inside the Mothership from the French were catchy, but were soon drowned out by a roaring squall of hooliganism outside on the secondary final table.

When Barmy Army bellowed, that meant only one thing -- a British player made the final table.

"It's Middy," explained my English colleague Homer. "He lives not too far from me in Leeds. Tom Middleton is quite a big draw among his friends. He'll either have a gigantic stack or spew it all off in a matter of hands. Middy is an exciting player to watch because you'll never know what will happen next."

The Brits on the rail of the $2,500 NL were dressed up for Ladies Night at Stoney's, a country western bar on the fringe of North Las Vegas. They hoped all the ladies were shithoused drunk on $1 cocktails, and couldn't resist their charming accents, and all of those young pros could bed American tourists with loose morals. Thanks to the Snookification of American society, that's like shooting spray-tanned orange fish in a barrel.

The Brits consumed liquor at a staggering pace -- food and beverage crew were losing their shit in the back hallways, scrambling around every nook and cranny inside the Rio to round up every bottle of Jagermeister. The night passed midnight and Middy's rail grew drunker and rowdier, which was pretty much the same story for any British assault on a bracelet over the last two years. Some nights have gotten a little crazy with an army of young, excitable, British players attempting to put their mark on WSOP history. They all embraced the Vegas attitude of anything goes, while putting a British spin on things. Hence the binge-drinking and ear-piercing chants that tilted a few players and media.

"We've only come to see Middy!" reverberated throughout the Amazon Ballroom.

A waitress contentiously brought out trays and trays of Jager and Redbull. At one point I heard "Eskimo" chants mixed in with "Get your tits out!", along with Middy's online screen name "Hit the Hole!"

At one point, Middy was on the brink of elimination when he got it all in with A-9 against A-Q. The Brits had conceded the hand pre-flop and began singing, "We're all off to Stoneys! We're all off to Stoneys!"

A Nine hit the board and a thunderous howl filled the room and the air reeked of Jagermeister. The Brits altered their chant to "We're not off to Stoneys! We're not off to Stoneys!"

I got crocked on Carlsberg at dinner and was cooking on Percs, so I was in the proper state of mind to embed myself on the rail with the hooligans. The antics were kinda funny, but I finally understood how riots begin. When caught up in a flash mob, you surrender to the group-think mentality and join in with the fervor, destruction and mayhem.

That's when events took a turn from absurd to utter anarchy. Middy's rail drowned shots of Jager out of shoes. That's no typo -- it's true -- shoes.

"This Middy kid better fucking win," I thought. "Otherwise these crunk'd up hooligans are going to turn the Mothership upside and torch the entire fucking thing to the ground."

Middy didn't win... yet and five players were still alive. Up on the main stage, no one had won a bracelet either. They were down two with Fabrice was heads up against Shawn Buchanan. For both tournaments playing down to a bracelet, action was suspended when play reached the 10th level. The hard-stop time was enacted an the party was over for both the French and Brits. Much to the chagrin of ChipBitch, the Germans didn't have to be called in to quiet the rowdy Brits and uppity French.

The deafening monsoon of revelry had come to a complete halt as a calming silence fell over the WSOP.

"You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."

Off to Stoneys.

* * * *

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day and over the weekend for random WSOP stuff and other hijinks.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 23: Timex Flashback, Jason Mercier Wins PLO Bracelet, and More Sordid Tales About Chasing the Dragon

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I met Timex a few hours after he turned 18 years old. Flashback to 2007. London, England for inaugural WSOP-Europe at the Empire Casino in Liecester Square. The bouncers gave the kid guff and wouldn't let him inside because it was less than an hour after Midnight. Technically, he was 18 and eligible to set foot inside a casino in the UK, however, one of the bouncers was being a stickler for the rules and said he couldn't enter until the morning when the casino re-opened. After a bit of negotiation, Timex was allowed inside the Empire. Funny thing is that at the time, he probably had more cash in his pocket than the yearly salary of both bulky guards at the front.

Timex was a wunderkind -- a baby-faced teenager who ran one of the biggest staking syndicates in the world. At the time, Timex rivaled the Russians, Bax-Sheets, and Erick Lindgren in terms of backing numbers. I only caught a glimpse into their world because a friend of mine was one of Timex horses with a make-up of almost six figures. Part of me to this day is still astonished at how a high school kid from Canada could amass a big enough bankroll to back several of the premier online pros (circa 2007). With a knack for investing in profitable tournament players and generating income from his own deft skills at the tables (he holds the record for being the youngest EPT champion), Timex should be probably be working at Goldman Sachs or at Barcalys in London.

Then again, when you're 21 years-old the last thing you want to do is wear a suit and grind out 16-hour days at a trading desk, especially when the alternative is the life of a baller poker pro, when sleeping in late and skipping the first two levels of a tournament is the norm because you're spending your nights with your face buried in warm bosom of an exotic dancer, working her way through grad school for Anthropology, of course, because all Vegas strippers are either coke whores or PhD candidates. Every once in a while you hit the jackpot and find both.

Timex played in his first WSOP this summer because he's 21-years old now -- a dinosaur in the online realm, where teenagers ruled the virtual world like the meathead jocks in a John Hughes film. If Black Friday didn't happen and online poker continued to flourish, it was a matter of time before rogue 12-year olds dominated the scene. It's the video game element to poker -- for some kids, it's like when I was in high school and finally beat Zelda on the first incarnation of Nintendo. Then again, for some of these superusers and other known-cheaters, the online poker world is just like Contra, where you were just a few steps away from unlimited lives by using the cheat code (Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A).

In the post-boom (yet pre-Black Friday era) the time an online pro is able to legally play at the PCA or the Aussie Millions, they're like Chinese gymnasts -- at least five years past their prime.

Did you see the last summer Olympics? Some of those tiny, acrobatic gymnasts from China looked like they were eight years old. Who knows, but maybe right now, there's uber-wealthy Chinese businessmen creating massive sweat shops, and instead of hiring little kids to sew swooshes onto golf shirts, running shoes, and basketball sneakers (with a retail price the equivalent of three months wages), they hired kids to play video games -- in this case online poker. Currently, scattered throughout Southeast Asia, thousands of sweat shop kids are sitting in front of an impressive grind station and playing 43 simultaneous SNGs.

Sorry for the tangent. Moving on...

Timex made the final table of Event #35 $5,000 PLO 6-handed, but busted out in 6th. Also at the final table was David Chui, four-time bracelet winner, who busted out in 4th place. When it got to heads-up, Jason Mercier was pitted against some dude named Hans from Nicaragua. Whenever I see someone with a German name with a Latin American country listed as his home nation, I instantly get suspicious. If Hans won, he'd instantly become the Godfather of Nicaraguan poker (that is, if he wasn't already a Godfather in some other realm). Alas, it was not meant to be. Hans was slayed by Jason Mercier.

Mercier won his second career bracelet, and both were in PLO. Everyone knows he can play NL, but you can add PLO to the roster of games in which Mercier dominates. According to Hendon Mob, he has over $1.5 million in career WSOP earnings and over $6 million in lifetime earnings. Mercier has certainly come along way since he got shanked in a bar fight in Italy. He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time. But on Day 23, he was at the right place, at the right time.

According to a tweet from @JessWelman, one of the weirdest incident thus far at the WSOP happened at the final table during one of the breaks. Allen Bari, who won a bracelet earlier in the year and is staked by Mercier, was shithoused drunk and threw his flip flop at Mercier -- either trying to hit him, or knock over his fortress of chips. The security quickly 86's Bari from the Mothership. When Maercier won, they let him back in during the winner's photo.

Guess which guy is Bari?

* * *

I got a text from my fake-lesbian friend Halli that a douchebag video poker pro wouldn't leave her alone as she minded her business pecking away at a video poker machine, so I saved her from that awkward, yet annoying situation. Instead of blowing big bucks on booze, I suggested the Pai Gow tables at the Gold Coast because we could drink essentially for free. We had only one problem -- she didn't know how to play Pai Gow. I gave her a quick tutorial in the parking lot and we sat down at an empty table.

I knew KevMath was slumming at the Gold Coast because of his tweets. He had the day off and was on a bender that included bingo. He joined us, we ordered a round of drinks, and one slight fumble caused a spill. The last time I played Pai Gow at the Gold Coast, we also experienced an embarrassing table spill and shortly after we all got cut off. We were extra saucy that night, but that was not the case because we were in the middle of the first round. What amazed me was the expanded surface area of the spill. According to the Bill Chen formula for spilling bottles of beer at the Pai Gow tables, this spill was a category 3 (out of 5).

The deck was ruined and the pit boss quickly fetched a new deck. I asked for the old, wet one but my request was denied.

When a new dealer took her seat in the box, she joked with KevMath,"You no pee on my table! No pee!!"

I never considered urinating on a Pai Gow table, but come to think of it, there were instances over the last few years when I was so tilted by Pai Gow dealers that I could have whipped it out and let 'er rip.

Eventually more troops arrived including Change100 (who was grinding out our rent money at the Venetian), WhoJedi, Homer, and Landon. We had reuinited three of the original five who were with us during Monday's festivities, except we had a significantly less booze, due to the slow-moving, yet slammed cocktail waitresses.

I left some of the boys still in the trenches and left early to go home and write (if you consider 3:45AM early). I could have taken a leak on the table after WhoJedi took my exact seat and got dealt A-A; 5-5-5-5-x. He also had a fortune bonus riding, which he always plays, so he added a few more bonus bucks to his dominating hand. Dammit. I knew I should have played one more orbit. I was so pissed, I could've pissed on the table.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 WSOP - Day 22: Slowdown, Rocky Mountain High, and Chau Giang Confirmed Alien

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Some days, you need to ease off the pedal.

The braintrust WSOP were well aware of the craziness of the seven-week fiesta of poker when they concocted the schedule. This weekend marked the mid-way point of the preliminaries. In sports terminology, I likened it to the middle section of a regular season (with the Main Event being the "playoffs").

Last week was overwhelming even for a veteran reporter. With the hard-stop times, we had seven events running at once. Even all the Adderall in Las Vegas couldn't jack me up enough to cover everything. That's why I often spend a couple of days without even peeking into the Pavilion, where all of the Day 1s take place. Heck, sometimes I don't have enough time to check out all of the Day 2s inside the Amazon Ballroom. Alas, such is the 2011 WSOP. It's bigger than ever, but it's impossible to cover everything.

I tried not to freak out due to the hectic schedule. It's a daunting task and instead of pulling out what little hair I had on my head, I too a Zen-like approach and covered stuff as it happened. My goal this summer was to write a few good pieces a week, have fun, and make some money gambling -- whether it's sportsbetting or actually playing cards. As much as I spend several weeks in Vegas every summer, I play a lot less poker than you think. Sure, we might fart around the Pai Gow tables, but that's more blowing off steam and getting free drinks for $1 tip. I simply don't have the time to grind it out at the poker tables when my time could be better allocated for sleep or writing. This year, I made the conscious decision to add more gambling to my daily regimen.

I finished off the NBA playoffs with a profitable run hammering away at the Dallas Mavs. I pissed away $500 on the damn Vancouver Canucks, and I was stewing with ire, so much so, I could have torched a car and tussled with riot police. But right now, I'm in the middle of a heater betting on baseball courtesy of my new baseball tout -- AlCantHang. The guy knows Marlboros, SoCo, meat products, and baseball. We're not betting everything -- only when something pops up on Al's radar. He's a man with many vices, but sportsbetting is not one of them, so when points out a match up with value -- I jump all over it. So far, so good.

Our next step into building a baseball betting syndicate is trying to program KevMath to predict over/under totals for the second half of the season, and as soon as his internal AI interface figures out trends, we're gonna rake in some serious cheddar betting on baseball. Yes, yes, yes... onlytotal d egens bet on baseball, but we're not degening it up. Rather, we're investing.

That sounded very convincing, even I bought it. By the way, I know a Ponzi scheme I can get you into. Just drop off a $10,000 check to the press box and we'll happily invest it for you in derivatives and other mortgage-backed securities.

Sorry for the tangent...

So the last two days have been very calm at the WSOP, all things considered, because only four events were running. Refreshing for sure, to be able to catch a breath. One floor guy mentioned it was rather boring because he was used to running around like a chicken on crack with its head cut off. It's at this point of the WSOP when people hit the wall (a second or third time), and people lose their shit, whether it's staff, players, or even media. The WSOP is like climbing a mountain. Most people don't make it to the top, but the most tragic stories are the ones who reach the summit, but die on their way down.

Me? I embraced the slow Tuesday and slowly shrugged off my hangover. In the late afternoon, I hung out with AlCantHang in the sportsbook sweating our bet on the Colorado Rockies. Once that game was over, I sweated the 5K PLO 6-handed event which still had several of the top PLO players in the game. One table was a true table of death -- Chris Moorman, durrrr, Peter Jetten, Devilfish, and Jason Mercier. I kinda wished I could see the hole cards in that game.

I wandered around the start of the $10,000 HORSE Championship. My friend Shirley was playing and she had a rough table. My other bud, Jesse Martin, was in the event. He shared this tweet about HORSE history: "Mori Eskandani explains that HORSE was invented when Archie Karas said 'Add Razz and I'll play,' to the regular SHOE game."

Speaking of Mori, he was playing along with Archie Karas.

Chau Giang was wandering around laughing his ass off at random stuff, mostly the fact that Phil Laak was seated to his right and reading poker books. He thumbed through one book about Omaha 8, while that game was being played.

"I don't know how to play this Omaha stuff," he said. "I need all the help I can get."

Chau was in rare form. According to Jimmy Fricke, Chau walked around in a hoodie -- which made him look like E.T. Yes, it's true. Chau Giang phone home.

I'm convinced that many of the most successful people on Earth are aliens or alien hybrids. I already have proof that KevMath is a cyborg. The Micros swear that Erik Seidel is one as well. I've had run-ins with dozens of Pai Gow dealers that are bots. But aliens? They all flock to Sin City and many of them are scattered over the WSOP. Among my suspected list of aliens is Chau Giang, Phil Laak, Mickey Appleman, Robert Williamson, and Tom Dwan.

When I was done alien hunting in the 10K, I headed to the Palms poker room to play in Dan Michalski's special Pokerati mixed game (half-PLO and half-NL). I've turned a small profit in the game over the last few weeks and it's really more about having fun, drinking, and socializing then trying to make some big bucks. Fun times for sure.

Sometimes you lose focus in life and worry too much about work and other petty bullshit. I definitely tweaked my mission statement this summer to incorporate more time away from the Rio hanging out in different parts of Las Vegas. The WSOP experience is not limited to just the Rio. Last Monday, for example, I headed downtown to Binion's for an old school night of steaks and poker with some friends. And you've already read about my hijinks from Monday night at the Gold Coast. Some of these moments would never have been possible if I just stayed at the Rio for 18 hours a day watching every tournament at the WSOP. I'm sure a few grumpy readers are pissed I'm not live blogging stuff anymore. As one colleague pointed out, "You're clearly accumulating new material for the sequel to Lost Vegas."

Hmmm... I never thought of that before. Could be a good idea.

* * *

That's it. For a quickie wrap, head over to RISE Poker and check out my WSOP Day 22 Recap.

Follow @taopauly for Twitter updates throughout the day.

Also, help support indie writers and buy my books: Lost Vegas: The Redneck Riviera, Existentialist Conversations with Strippers and the World Series of Poker, and my recently released novel, Jack Tripper Stole My Dog. Both are also available for Kindles and iPads.

Win a WSOP Main Event Seat Via RISE Poker

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

RISE Team Pro - Maria Ho

RISE Poker is giving away a Main Event package worth $12,500.

After Black Friday, the fucking jackals in Washington cockblocked anyone trying to seek a WSOP Main Event seat for super cheap. No more online poker sites to run satellites -- so what are you gonna do? Unless you fly out to Vegas to grind out sats in the corner of the Pavilion at the Rio, while fending off the likes of Ice Man or Eskimo begging you for money, then you're shit out of luck.

Unless... you play on RISE Poker, which is a new, free (and legal) poker site that a couple friends of mine started last month.

RISE Poker is giving away a Main Event package on Thursday, June 23rd at 9pm ET (or 6pm PT Vegas time). The $12,500 prize covers the $10,000 buy-in plus spending money for travel expenses or one helluva night at the Rhino.

If you are a VIP Member, you can instantly access this special tournament. Membership only cost $19.99 a month -- which is a pretty sweet deal if you can parlay $20 into a $12,500 package. If you have a normal membership, you have to play your way in through qualifiers. Time is running out, so hurry up and sign up!

I'm not going to bullshit you. RISE Poker is not like a traditional online poker site, which you were used to grinding on prior to Black Friday. The best comparison I can give you is that it's a cooler version of Zynga Poker. But at this point, because we live in the Nanny States of America, you have limited options to win a seat for super cheap. RISE Poker might be your only chance to get in for super cheap, while playing poker from the comforts of your home.

For full details about the Main Event Giveaway, visit RISE Poker.

If you don't have a RISE Poker account, simply download the client.

Also, if you don't know, both Change100 and I have been writing daily recaps for the RISE Poker Blog. Check those out as well.

Special Episode of Tao of Pokerati: Adieu, Benjo (Ep 20)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

This is an "extra special episode" for Benjo and will be the last time Dr. Pauly, Dan, and Benjo record an episode for the 2011 WSOP...
2011 WSOP - Episode 20: Adieu, Benjo (8:40) - After almost a week of speculation and rumors, Benjo confirms that he's leaving Las Vegas and heading home to France. His brief stint at the WSOP is officially over. One chapter ends, and a new one begins. Dr. Pauly, Dan and Benjo hang out in the dive bar inside the bowling alley at Gold Coast to listen to Benjo bid his farewells.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Tao of Pokerati Podcast: KevMath Keno System (Ep 19)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

Last night, I found KevMath at a dive bar playing video Keno. Here's his story...
2011 WSOP - Episode 19: KevMath Keno System with KevMath (6:01) - Pauly and KevMath hang out at the dive bar in a bowling alley at the Gold Coast. KevMath was in the middle of crushing a video Keno game, when Pauly asked him to share a couple of his big secrets to beating the game.
For more episodes, visit the Tao of Pokerati archives.

2011 WSOP - Day 21: A Day in the Life; Hellmuth Denied 12th Bracelet (Again)

By Pauly
Las Vegas, NV

I had a dream that I was in a random hotel room somewhere with a maid pounding on my door, except it wasn't a dream, it was reality, just a few hours ago. My head was throbbing and I was disoriented in a random hotel room and couldn't figure out what day of the week it was or even the actual date. On the night stand was a plethora of orange and white pills, a couple of Gold Coast chips, and a sports betting ticket from the Rio. Apparently I had bet on the Colorado Rockies and had no idea if that game already happened, or if it was yet to happen.

Did I mention about the woman who barely spoke English who was pounding on my door like a Swat Team with a battering ram trying to bust up a mobile meth lab?

I had one of those Vegas nights.

It's not a night what I would consider and epic adventure, but it wasn't exactly a normal night either. It fell somewhere in between. Alas, it's one of those nights that happens to us at least once a week. To quote my buddy Otis, "This is what we do."

In this instance, I really don't know how to tell you this story about my Monday, other than to start from the top.

* * *

I woke up in a fog. My house was empty. My French roomies were AWOL. Benjo took off for a weekend trip to Death Valley. Vincent the video guy had crashed at the Cosmo. And my girlfriend was still in the City of Angels after going home to visit her old man for Father's Day.

I had knocked myself out the night before to catch up on sleep. When I'm at the WSOP, I push myself to the brink of exhaustion. I can't stop. It's just how I am. Alas, the addicts life applies to everything I do. I have one speed -- fast. I go balls to the wall when it comes to working and partying. Vegas is dangerous because the two aspects of my life blend into each other.

I have chronic insomnia and when you're plugged into Vegas, it's difficult to unplug yourself. I can't explain it other than the energy swirling around this city is not only toxic, it does everything in its power to keep you from powering down. Luckily my girlfriend left a jar of Xanax in the medicine cabinet. I ate the equivalent of 1.5 Xannie bars to make sure I stayed asleep. It worked too well because when my alarm buzzed, I was caught inside the Xannie morning haze... foggy and rather groggy.

I showered, waited in my empty house until I was coherent enough to drive, and then headed to a local cafe where the waitresses doesn't know me by name, but know what I like to eat whenever I come in. They fed me as I zoned out and sifted through that morning's twitter static. I had that "Awwww, fuck...." reaction when I realized that... 1) I never finished my Tao of Poker recap from the night before, and 2) I forgot I had an interview with a documentary film crew set for noon.

I wolfed down breakfast, sped to the Rio, and walked into an empty Amazon Ballroom. It was not noon yet and the room was eerily quiet. I knew that within two hours the entire room would be buzzing with various restarts. A couple of suits held a meeting in the corner. I ignored them and they ignored me as a random tourist wandered in and snapped cell phone pics of empty tables.

My buddy Friedman is one of the associate producers for Boom, Jay Rosenkrantz and Taylor Caby's documentary about the poker boom and subsequent fallout from Black Friday. They asked to interview me and I kinda forgot they blocked off two hours of my time. I was dragging serious ass so I did what anyone would do in that situation -- I broke off half of an Adderall and swallowed it down with overpriced bottle water.

The interview went great. The director, Ryan, seemed pleased with some of my answers. I have no idea what they'll use, but assumed that most of it would end up on the cutting room floor. At the least, I wanted to help them tell the real story about the poker boom. I was just one of the million cogs in the massive poker machine, but they wanted to hear my tweaked view on the last few years. I kinda joked with them that it would be incredibly cool (and fucked up) if they were actually undercover agents for the DOJ and FBI.

I wandered back downstairs to the pressbox and attempted to crank out Day 20's recap. Unfortunately, I got caught in that rut where everyone who stopped by was preventing me from writing. The constant bombardment of questions involving rumors that Benjo had quit had gotten old. I had been under siege for a week and couldn't take it any more. I snapped because all those legit questions and concerns were a hindrance from doing my work. I rushed out of the pressbox in a huff and hid inside the press room, where I cranked out Day 20's recap.

Snoopy, one of my older friends in poker and one of my favorite scribed from the UK, stopped by to check up on my well being. He finally arrived into town and had that "fresh" and "eager" look to him. Meanwhile, I was on my 15th day in a row without a day off. Even though I took off a couple of days to see Phish in Ohio near the beginning of the series, I was up partying for two straight days -- so even though I had a break from poker -- my body didn't get a break. I had been running ragged for three weeks straight. That's why I desperately needed sleep and forced myself to rest for at least eight hours the night before. The only downside of all that rest was that I was going to be overflowing with abundant energy. Little did I know that would be my downfall.

With all of my work done, it was finally time to check out the actual tournament. The Stud 8 championship was playing down to the final table and the field was stack with plenty of familiar faces including Phil Hellmuth gunning for bracelet #12. I told myself I wouldn't care until he actually made the final table. But the Poker Brat was inching closer and closer to me actually giving a shit.

Benjo pinged me and said he was flying back to France in the morning and wanted to meet up for a quick goodbye drink later that night. He was on his way back from Death Valley and I knew one drink was not going to suffice. I made a wise decision and booked a room at the Gold Coast for the night. Due to my staggering Pai Gow losses, I get a couple of free rooms a month. The one shitty thing about my girlfriend heading back to LA for the weekend meant that I had to rent a car and drive myself to and from work. I super responsible when it comes to operating a vehicle and I won't drink or dabble in any pharmaceuticals if I get behind the wheel. As a result, I was dead sober the last few days (and utterly miserable, obviously, because I was unable to dull the pain of dealing with assholes and fucktards). I welcomed the opportunity to get shitfaced and not worrying about driving home.

I checked into my room at the Gold Coast. They gave me one of the top floors -- a smoking floor at my request -- and when I stepped off the elevator the entire floor reeked of weed... and it wasn't me.

I returned to the Rio and wandered through the Pavilion. I noticed a huge crowd gathered around the cash game section. Bob was standing on a chair and I asked him what was up. "Huge pot with Farha," he said. "At least $200K."

With people six and seven deep on the rail and a security guard blocking the entrance, I pulled a veteran move and walked around to the other side. I flashed my badge to the other security guard and muttered something like, "This is official business." He didn't blink and I walked right up to the $100/$200 PLO table. A random Euro with greasy long hair, hipster jeans, and white shoes raked in the pot and pulled back a couple of thick bricks of Benjamins. Farha sat across from him shaking his head in disgust.

I headed into the Amazon Ballroom and the final table of the Stud 8 was set (Ted Forrest, Phil Hellmuth, Al Eslami, Joe Tehan, Russian chess writer/poker scribe Mikhail Savinov, David Benyamine, John Racener, and Eric Rodawig). Hellmuth had made it and was gunning for #12.

Photo by WhoJedi

Regardless if I liked/hated Hellmuth, I had to be there if he won the bracelet. I rooted against the Poker Brat to bust early so I wouldn't have to wait around for the outcome. Selfish, I know, but I didn't really care about being an impartial member of the media. I only wished for an early death because I didn't want to miss Benjo's last night in town. If he was truly quitting poker media, it was going to be one hell of a bender. Normally, I tell my friends to fuck off because work always took precedent in the summers, but in this instance, I was very conflicted.

If I had to cover a final table that included Hellmuth, there was no way I was going to do that sober. With a hotel across the street secured, I said hello to my dear friend Mr. Percosett. We've had lots of fun times together and he makes any dull situation extraordinary. I was cooking on Addys and Percs, which is the equivalent of eating chocolate-dipped bacon -- it tastes so fucking good at the time, but in the end it will catch up to you and you'll end up like bloated Elvis -- a career pill popper who croaked in the bathroom and found face down, ass up after choking on his own vomit.

Fuck Elvis, I thought. I can dodge bullets just like my pal Phil Hemlluth. With the warm fuzzies exploding through my body, I hung out at the final table and shifted back and forth between the press area inside the Mothership, and hiding my press badge to embed myself in the audience. I found a contingency of Russians sitting in the corner, including my buddy Ilya, who was sitting with his fellow countryman. Ilya gave me the straight dope on his friend and colleague Mikhail Savinov. What I liked about Savinov was his graphic t-shirt with a silhouette of Bob Dylan. Savinov also sported Chuck Klosterman glasses and looked more like a hipster riding the L train to Williamsburg, than one of the unknown (yet dangerous) Russians who invaded the WSOP this summer.

I was supposed to meet Benjo at 11pm at the Gold Coast at our usual spot where our friends hang out (or hide out) after a long day of working at the Rio. At that point, six players were still left at the final table including Hellmuth. I decided to take off to drink, and monitor the situation via Twitter and my CrackBerry. My friends Shirley and Halli came to get me in the pressbox. Shirley was all smiles after she chopped a single table HORSE satellite for the 10K Championship (set for the next day). Halli is one of her good friends and travel companions. Our common friends like to joke that they are lesbians because making fun of lesbians is always fucking hysterical (until one of them kicks you in the nuts, but that's a story for another time). They are not lovers, but sometimes I like to beat a joke to death, like those dead horses they whip the hell out of and then grind up the meat for burgers in the Poker Kitchen.

I headed to the Gold Coast with my fake-lesbian friends and found Benjo sitting at the bar in between KevMath and AlCantHang. Talk about a motley crew that sounded like the opening to a bad ethnic joke -- "So I walk into a dive bar with a parrot on my shoulder and two lesbians, and see KevMath, AlCantHang, and an angry Frenchman sitting at the bar..."

The booze began to flow. I ate more Percosetts and that's when the memory became a little -- sketchy. I watched KevMath play video Keno. That's been his latest vice and we recorded a Tao of Pokerati episode (click here to listen to that epic recording) in which KevMath explained his simple, and profitable system to destroying Keno. The gang at The Micros poked fun at Erik Seidel being a cyborg (Seiborg), but after watching KevMath interact with the video poker/Keno machine, I was convinced he was a real cyborg. It's true KevMath is half-man, half-machine. I saw it with my own eyes. No wonder he never sleeps. He might be the only one I know who sleeps less than me.

I also watched in astonishment as WhoJedi employed KevMath's Keno System and walked away $500 richer. This shit works. We're going to publish a book (I get to write the introduction) as soon as I introduce KevMath to my buddy Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot and they hammer out the final draft.

I got word that Hellmuth was about to be heads-up against Eric Rodawig. I smoked a joint in the parking lot and hit up the 24-our store inside the Rio. I wandered into the press area and got made fun of by the Poker Cougar.

"You must be high and have the munchies," she said.

"Is the bag cookies and the Chunky bar the dead give away?"

"Well that, and you smell like a skunk."

Hellmuth was down 3-1 in chips when heads-up started. The match didn't last very long and Rodawig prevailed. The entire crowd gave Hellmuth a warm ovation as he shook hands with the new champion and rushed out of the Mothership. I did the same and returned to the Gold Coast with WhoJedi. We joked that we'd find Timtern playing Pai Gow, but when we walked into the casino, we spotted him at the end of the craps table.

As I got closer, Chip Bitch magically appeared. I was still ten feet away and could smell the booze emanating from his mouth. He gave me an awkward, drunken half-hug. He was half in the bag when the roller at the end of the table tossed the dice and it danced across the felt. Craps out.

"Fuccccccccck," bemoaned Timtern as he pointed at a wobbling Chip Bitch. "That fucker cost me $300!"

"Time for Pai Gow," I said and pointed to an empty table.

It was a few minutes before 4am. We had the entire table to ourselves: myself, Timtern, WhoJedi, ChipBitch, and Homer. Apparently, Chip Bitch knew one of the Pai Gow dealers -- an elderly, saucy Asian woman with decades of experience dealing to schwilly idiots.

"How you doing?" she asked, like a loving aunt.

"Great!" screamed Chip Bitch. "I fucked a stripper the other night."

"Shut up!" the dealer scolded him, obviously not approving of his use of profanity. "So, how much did that cost you?"

Zing! She knew how to handle our crocked crew and dished the shit right back at us.

Whenever Homer, who is from the U.K., spoke to the dealer, she said something like, "You talk funny."

"That's because he's drunk," I muttered. "And he's from Australia."

Somewhere along the way, Homer and WhoJedi spread the rumor (which became fact by the end of the night), that they were long lost brothers from Madagascar. This might sound incredibly stupid and childish while you're reading this, but if you're crocked to the tits on rum and pharmies, you'd find it absolutely hysterical.

When Chip Bitch tried to hit on the dealer, she scolded him, "My son is older than you. I'm 61."

"61?" slurred Chip Bitch. "How about 61 going on 69!"

Oh, Lord. We were destined to get 86'd. If we weren't spewing chips, they would have kicked us out hours earlier. Especially after Chip Bitch screamed "If I lose this hand, I'll suck my own cock!"

At that point the saucy dealer begged Timtern to smack Chip Bitch every time he cursed.

"Tim," she pleaded, "Hit Chip Bitch, please. Hit him hard!"

We created a special low-hand bonus. If you drew a 9-high Pai Gow, then everyone at the table paid you $5. If you got a 10-high Pai Gow, then you collected $1 from everyone at the table. Over the course of four plus hours, the low bonus hit only once when Homer squeezed out an abysmal 10-low.

The oddest thing we saw at the Gold Coast at 5am (and believe me there's tons of weird shit to see at that bewitching hour) was the lanky Asian man who wandered around all of the gaming tables with his arms folded. He constantly sweated our table and preferred to stand right behind WhoJedi. He was visibly irked and rightfully so. WhoJedi had to say something to the pitposs and asked them to run off our only railbird. We had been loud, raucous, and belligerent -- easily the loudest gamblers in the pit -- and everyone wanted nothing to do with us, that is, except the weird Asian guy with the crossed arms. When the coffee stand opened up at 6am, I saw him starring at the assorted pastries in the display window with his arms crossed and giving the muffins the same zombie-like blank stare he gave us.

At one point, we all shipped a huge bet after the dealer busted with a Jack-high Pai Gow.

"This is an easy game," proclaimed WhoJedi.

"No it isn't," snapped our dealer. I knew what was up. She was a local and a total degen Pai Gow player herself. She only dealt Pai Gow to cover her massive losses. Deep down, she must have really hated our inebriated asses.

At some point, Chip Bitch knocked over Timtern's vodka-Red Bull and the floor handed us a towel to wipe down the table and clean up the cards. Their patience was growing thin.

By then, everything out of Chip Bitch's mouth was quote worthy and/or an incendiary f-bomb. But we finally reached the tipping point when a dealer in training sat down and asked us how we all knew each other.

"We're all brothers," I said with a straight face. "All from the same mother. Different father's, obviously."

"Yep, same momma," added Chip Bitch. "We've all tasted the same pubes on the way out."

The female pit boss was in stitches and couldn't stop laughing, but when she finally regained composure, she cut him off. She pointed to the haggard cocktail server and shook her head. We got cut off for an hour.

Penalty box. Wow, you really have to fuck up to get cut off at a Vegas casino, especially at the Gold Coast.

Shortly before 6am, I was falling asleep and actually nodded off for a few seconds at the table. I had two choices -- suck it up or eat more Adderall. I opted to eat an apple fritter and a big assed iced tea at the coffee stand. That perked me up a bit and kept me going until the buffet opened up at 7am.

Somehow, Timtern finagled us a couple of food comps for the buffet. I really think we got them because the pit boss wanted to get rid of us. Duran Duran's Hungry Like the Wolf blasted over the casino's sound system. I told everyone it was a sign to end the gambling session and go eat a shitty buffet. Half the group protested -- our one-hour penalty was about to be up.

"Only ten more minutes until we can drink again!"

Thank God AlCantHang wasn't feeling well and went to bed early. Otherwise, one of us would have died.

Alas, we gave up on the pits and shuffled toward the buffet, like a menacing hurricane about to reach landfall. We sorted out the comps at the cashier and cheered when we saw that they had a special -- $1 PBR. As the famous movie quote from Blue Velvet goes, "Heineken? Fuck that shit. Pabst Blue Ribbon!

I warned the hostess, "We're schwasted. Please seat us next to the crabbiest, grumpiest, bitchiest table of old people in the buffet."

"You just described everyone in here," she said without missing a beat.

I pulled out a $5 bill and handed it to her. "You fucking rock."

We were seated as close to the food as possible and drew scathing looks from the early bird octogenarians. They frowned every time we hooted and hollered. We filled our plates with horrendous greasy breakfast food stuffs. I would never eat the Gold Coast buffet while sober, but while cooking on a pharmie cocktail, stoned to the tits on a strain called Hulk Kush, and rum pumping through my system, I didn't think twice as I devoured a mound of bacon and a biscuit so fucking hard, it could be used as a doorstop.

Why? As Otis would say, "This is what we do."

I don't remember anything after the plate of bacon.

I had a dream that I was in a random hotel room somewhere with a maid pounding on my door, except it wasn't a dream, it was reality, just a few hours ago. My head was throbbing and I was disoriented in a random hotel room and couldn't figure out what day of the week it was or even the actual date. On the night stand was a plethora of orange and white pills, a couple of Gold Coast chips, and a sports betting ticket from the Rio. Apparently I had bet on the Colorado Rockies and had no idea if that game already happened, or if it was yet to happen.